Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

California Lawmakers Seek to Block Utility Billing for Fire Cost

California lawmakers introduced a bill that would prevent electric utilities from passing along costs to customers for wildfire damages that result from negligent actions.

The legislative push, led by State Senator Jerry Hill, comes as utility owners PG&E Corp. and Edison International are being investigated for their roles in deadly wildfires that recently hit the state. The companies face billions in potential liabilities. Last month, PG&E suspended its dividend due to uncertainty regarding possible damages.

Under state law, utilities are liable for fire damages if their equipment is found to have been a cause, even if they followed safety rules. The utilities must then ask regulators for permission to recover those costs. “It’s time to stop allowing utilities to push the burden of their negligence onto the backs of customers,” Hill, a Democrat, said in a statement.

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